Prison tug of war over killers

18 December 2011 - 04:13 By Solly Maphumulo

CONVICTED killers Gert van Schalkwyk and Reinach Tiedt were "distraught" following several failed attempts to be released from jail this weekend.

Now the two, who with Christoff Becker and Frikkie du Preez are known as the "Waterkloof Four", are pinning their hopes on being home for Christmas.

Their lawyers have obtained two court orders changing their incarceration at Cullinan's Zonderwater prison to correctional supervision, but the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) will go to court tomorrow to fight their release.

Lawyer Jenny Brewis accused the DCS of holding her clients hostage and said she would make another urgent high court application tomorrow.

She said: "I managed to see my clients this morning [Saturday]. They were very distraught. Their families are very upset. They are not supposed to be in prison."

DCS spokesman Zacharia Modise said: "We have taken that matter on appeal and will deal with it on Monday."

The four were sentenced to 12 years in jail after beating a homeless man to death and assaulting another man in 2001, while the four were still teenagers. They have served three years and four months.

Brewis said the Zonderwater parole board filed an application in the Pretoria Regional Court for the pair's sentences to be converted to correctional supervision on November 18 because they were "model prisoners".

She said their release certificates were handed to them on Thursday but DCS officials prevented them from walking free. The officials also failed to comply with a high court release order issued on Friday.

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